Dear Osborne Village

I love you, Osborne Village, but you’re bringing me down.

It’s not that you did anything, that’s not the problem. I still think you’re great. But I grew up with you. Maybe into you. I’ve been with you for a decade, traipsing your back alleys, haunting your bars, watching the ice on the Assiniboine shift and crack and float away every spring. I’ve lived here, worked here, fallen in love here, broken up here. You’ve always been around to pick me up when I’m down. But it’s time for me to do something else.

My friend Greg once told me that if you stay in one place too long – environmentally, mentally, emotionally, whatever – and develop routines and habits that never break, you’ll never be able to change your perspective, to grow into new mindsets and develop yourself creatively. I’ve been with you so long that I haven’t bothered to make sure I did that. At one point I didn’t even like crossing the bridge that ties you to downtown. That kind of thinking makes it hard to become something else, to build yourself into a well-rounded person. I’ve defined myself as a part of you instead of defining myself as myself.

It’s not like we won’t see each other. This is Winnipeg, after all. I’ll visit a bunch and hang out. I’m not going to try to avoid you. I just can’t live in you right now. I can’t walk the same path to work, stop at the same stores, stare out at the same view from the corner of River and Osborne. I have to do something else, at least for a while. You’ll always feel like home, but sometimes you have to leave that comfort behind to take some risks, improve who you are, and realize how much you miss it.

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I won’t speak ill of you to anyone. You’ve got so much to offer – some of the best food and nightlife in the city, an eclectic mix of shops, a real feeling of community, and you’re home to a lot of the greatest people I’ve ever met. You’re always there when someone’s looking to have a good time. You’re the kind of place that’s so hard to build – a genuine, first-class neighbourhood, made special not by the shopping or bars or restaurants, but the people who live there.

You’ve always been such a great friend, confidant, and partner-in-crime, and it’d kill me to have you out of my life completely, so don’t worry about that. But I think this time apart is the best option for both of us right now. Who knows what’ll happen? Maybe your Cornerstone Bar and Restaurant will get nationally recognized for top-notch food and being a great neighbourhood hangout. Maybe the new Sushi place near Baked Expectations will stay open for decades. Maybe the Zoo vendor will… well, let’s be honest, the Zoo vendor is never gonna change.

I’m not saying never again, I’m just saying not right now. I’d really love to come back one day and get into the groove of everything that makes living here so great. You’re a great friend, I still love you, and I know you’ll always be there for me.

Miss you already.

Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country singers. Follow him on Twitter @MattGeeWilliams. 

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